Jabberwocky in American Sign Language is a clear winner

The Omaha World-Herald has reported some great news from Iowa where the national Poetry Out Loud competition at the Iowa School for the Deaf was won with a performance of Jabberwocky. First-time contestant Gabby Humlicek wowed the judges with her choice. ”It was a really challenging poem to turn into American Sign Language,” Humlicek said. In rendering Carroll’s nonsense words Humlicek said it helped that “I’m a gregarious signer, and I practiced.” The newspaper reports that Gabby will go on to the state competition in De Moines this March – success there could lead to Washington D.C. and a bid for the national title. We wish her luck!

I couldn’t find an online video of Gabby’s performance, but for the curious I did manage to find another anonymous performance on YouTube. It’s fascinating to try and follow along with the poem. I am not sure what is happening 40 seconds in but I think it might be the frumious bandersnatch and, if so, it is pretty scary. It would be great if any readers of this blog who know ASL could offer us a commentary.

Throw teddy out of the pram, Jabberwock is here!

Look! Isn’t he adorable? It’s a poseable plush toy made by Toy Vault, currently selling for $6.99 on Amazon.com.

Toy Vault Jabberwock Plush Doll

Toy Vault Jabberwock Plush Doll

Sir Christopher Lee reads Jabberwocky

Has your Monday been too mimsy? Not mimsy enough? Never fear, here is a recording of Jabberwocky read by Sir Christopher Lee, famous for playing Count Dracula, Saruman, Scaramanga and countless other tall and sinister men. According to the host site Metacafe, the recording was made at the British Library sometime last year and uploaded by a user called “poetictouch”. Enjoy.

Galumphing? It’s a perfectly cromulent word

Children’s author Lil Chase compiled a list of her favorite made-up words in the Guardian today. What’s interesting is how many of the words, invented fancifully by literary wordsmiths, have simply become normal English words. ‘Muggle,’ from J.K. Rowling, now is used not only to mean “a non-magical person,” but more widely as being a person outside of some specific interest.  Lil Chase lists A.A. Milne’s “heffalump,” Orson Welles’ “ungood,” and others, and of course Carroll:

"Coloured Jabberwock" by InsidiousTweevle (digital art, photomanipulation, ©2007-2011) based on American McGee's Alice, deviantart.com

7. Galumphing
After slaying the terrible Jabberwock, the boy in Lewis Carrol’s poem “left it dead, and with its head / he went galumphing back.” It’s thought to be a combination of the words “gallop” and “triumphant”. However, modern-day usage is different: picture a sort of ungainly, graceless way of walking with difficulty, the gait of a grumpy teenager, perhaps; perhaps how you might walk if you were dragging a giant jabberwock’s head.

[...]

10. Cromulent
My favourite made up word comes from The Simpsons and it describes all of the words above. It’s “a dubious or made up word, term, or phrase that is entirely plausible because it makes logical sense within existing language conventions”. But it’s best defined by simply quoting the script:
As two teachers stand at the back of the auditorium someone recites Springfield’s motto: A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.
Teacher 1: Embiggens? I never heard that word before I moved to Springfield.
Teacher 2: I don’t know why. It’s a perfectly cromulent word.

Cromulent is an amazing word. I can’t believe I didn’t know it before. It’s like the word ‘sesquipedalian,’ which is a long word which means “a long word.”

TimeOut’s Review of Wonderland Musical is a fantastic Jabberwocky parody

Art by John Turner of Creative Goods Design & Supply, for Wonderland, in a New York Times special feature "Adventures in Communicating a New Alice"

The reviews have been coming in all weekend for Frank Wildhorn’s Wonderland: A New Broadway Musical (the musical formerly known as Wonderland: A New Musical and Wonderland: A New Musical Adventure.) Wonderland‘s website quotes the New York Times: “INSPIRATIONAL, FANCIFUL & GROOVY.” The Times’ review by Charles Isherwood was actually a bit more nuanced, but I suppose “…the desire to create a traditional narrative arc from the unruly dreamscape of Carroll’s original results in a convoluted story line pitting the good guys against the bad…” doesn’t fit on a marquee. Neither would “‘Wonderland’ transforms Alice’s surreal wanderings into a contemporary parable about reconnecting with your inner child and other watery truisms of the self-help industrial complex.” Kudos to Isherwood for pointing out that Alice’s “increasing exasperation to find her way home” is more Oz’s Dorothy than Alice: “a preoccupation that didn’t seem particularly urgent to the polite, spirited youngster in Carroll’s original.”

However, Adam Feldman’s proper panning for TimeOut New York was a spectacular parody of the Jabberwocky. It’s so good, I can’t resist posting it here in full:

’Tis Wildhorn, and the hapless cast
Does direly gambol on the stage.
All flimsy is the plot half-assed,
Not right for any age.

Beware of Wonderland, I warn!
The jokes that cloy, the scenes that flop!
Beware the humdrum words and scorn
The spurious, bland rock-pop!

The book’s a torpid bore in which
A newly single mom (Dacal)
Gets tested, see, by a journey she
Begins with quite a fall.

This modern Alice lands (ker-splat!)
In Wonderland, and banters some
With rabbit, caterpillar, cat
(In order: twee, dull, dumb).

She also meets a huffish Queen
Of Hearts (well-costumed Mason), and
A lady Hatter (Shindle, keen)
Who wishes to command.

These cartoon Carroll singers screech
The busy Wildhorn-Murphy score,
Which oft suggests a loud, high reach
At songs you’ve heard before.

A White Knight (Ritchie) does enact
A boy-band number that’s a lark—
But then comes the worst second act
Since poor Turn Off the Dark.

Act Two: Boo! Boo! And through and through
This Wonderland’s both slick and slack.
Dacal et al. can only do
So much to save the wrack.

And why has Wonderland been made?
Answer me that, director Boyd!
From captious gays to children dazed:
By all it’s unenjoyed.

’Tis Wildhorn, and the hapless cast
Does direly gambol on the stage.
All flimsy is the plot half-assed,
Not right for any age.

Thank you, Mr Feldman. If the LCSNA gave out an annual award for Jabberwocky parody (and we should, dash it all!) this would be a heavy favorite.

I’d also like to take this moment to mention that the actor playing the R&B-singing Caterpillar has an amazing name: E. Clayton Cornelious.

Blog claims to have Lewis Carroll reading the Jabberwocky

While not impossible (Dodgson didn’t die till after the advent of sound recording), I was skeptical when this blog 22 Words claimed to have a recording of “Lewis Carroll reading ‘Jabberwocky.’” But I see they updated it with the comment “Oops! Sorry…This isn’t Lewis Carroll reading. Not sure how I made that mistake…” I can guess how they made the mistake: they had embedded the sound only from this strange YouTube animation. Its creator, Jim Clark, explains himself thusly: “Here is a virtual movie of Lewis Carroll reading his much loved poem Jabberwocky. The poem is read superbly by Justin Brett.”

There’s no known voice recordings of Carroll are there?

Video of a space where people can meet the words in Jabberwocky

Thanks to the blog Moving Poems: The Best Video Poetry on the Web for rediscovering this Vimeo video of Hye Yeon Nam‘s installation Dinner Party. I assume the video was taken at the Eyebeam exhibition in New York, 2008, and according to her website, Dinner Party was last sponsored in July 2010 by the not-at-all-Kafka-esque-sounding Ministry of Knowledge Economy and Korean Institute of Design Promotion. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Dinner Party from Hye Yeon Nam on Vimeo.

Dinner party provides a space where people meet and interact with Lewis Carroll’s poem, Jabberwocky, inspired creatures hiding in the shadows.
At first glance, the single chair and place set for one, seemingly provides a solitary dinner; rather the interaction offers a communication between oneself and the imaginary creatures. Initially gathered under the shadow cast by the plate, disturbed creatures will nervously scatter attempting to go around any other shadow cast on the table. A period of quiet status will encourage the creatures to reveal themselves.

Collaborate with Zach Lieberman and Jeremy Rotsztain
Developed with support from Eyebeam interactivos 08′

Lang Lang galumphs

Jabberwock puppet by Sarah Snowden

No need to report every time a Jabberwocky word is used somewhere, but this was a good one. Alex Ross, The New Yorker‘s classical music critic (and author of the excellent musical/political history of the 20th century The Rest Is Noise), in the middle of complaining about the flood of anniversary-year Chopin recordings, describes a showy pianist’s contribution thus:

Lang Lang, the other big Chinese virtuoso, galumphs through the two piano concertos on [Deutsche Grammophon].

Whether Ross means it in the sense of moving “heavily or clumsily” (Wiktionary) or in the more Carrollian sense of triumphant galloping, is up for interpretation. LCSNA blog followers, keep watching for interesting modern uses of Carroll coinages!

Ode to the Blingrupt

Check out Laura Rich’s (Recessionwire) “Jabberwocky” parody, “Ode to the Blingrupt” using economic-crisis terms coined by Trevor Butterworth:

‘Twas ponzipaloosa, and the slithy brokerers
Did scofit and fraudit in the Davy Jones Index;
All bankholed were the financial sucktor,
And the drivelatives quantitatively fassets teased...